I love it when people ask me interesting questions that keep me challenged. This was the best in a long time. Thanks, John.
The question was "What did famous astrologer Grant Lewi see in his chart that enabled him to predict his own death?" Reportedly, Lewi used only transits to make what he called his "projections," incorporating neither progressions, directions, tertiaries, nor harmonics. Therefore, the task of answering this question must also be limited to the methods Lewi used.
I doubt there are any astrologers who don’t know who Grant Lewi was, but in case any non-astrologers happen across this post, he was one of the fathers of modern astrology. He began his career as an English professor, but became so absorbed in the astrology lessons he received from his mother-in-law, that he quit teaching and became a full-time astrologer and author of several books: Heaven Knows What, Astrology for the Millions, and two novels. He wrote for, then became the editor of, Dell Horoscope magazine and also The Astrologer. One of the most important contributions for which we’re in his debt is the Saturn cycle of career success.
Lewi predicted his own death of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 49, "to the minute," according to Astrowiki, which places the time of death at 12 noon on July 15, 1951. Wikipedia gives the date of July 14, and also July 15, however no particular time is cited.
In trying to recreate the same chart Lewi may have used, I had many questions.
First off, according to the Astro Databank, Lewi’s time of birth is given as 8:30 AM "from memory," and rated "A" by Lois Rodden. However, Marc Edmund Jones, often referred to as "the Dean of Modern Astrology," in his book The Sabian Symbols in Astrology, in Chapter 13, page 355, gives Lewi’s birth time as 8:35 AM. He opens the chapter with several pages devoted to the importance of accurate birth data. While my copy is a third printing, published in 1993, the data was first published in 1953. This is a small but important difference, and should be solvable by creating daily harmonic charts for the date of death, using each birth time and seeing which more accurately reflects the death and its cause. Although I’ve done that and the results are posted here,
Grant Lewi Death Harmonic Comparison
I would still like to have more dates with which to test the harmonics. Precious little about Lewi is available online. We have a year of marriage and years of book publications, but no exact date for any of them.
In addition to the birth time dilemma, the time of death at noon sounds rounded off to me, and that is a time often used by astrologers when the real time is unknown (sunrise is the other). No one provides any certification of the time of death, or gives any insight into where this "official time" came from. But it’s what we’ve got, so it’s what we’ll use.
The natal chart provided on Astro.com (a/k/a Astrowiki) uses the Placidus house system with equal houses. But enlarge the chart, and you’ll see the houses are anything but equal. I played with both house systems, and prefer the equal house system because it puts Pisces on the 8th house cusp and eliminates interceptions. On the other hand, the Placidus house system puts Aquarius on the cusp of the 8th house, and the sudden nature of Uranus is more descriptive of the cause of death. Many astrologers use different house systems for different kinds of charts, and with no clear idea of which Lewi may have used for his prediction, I went in search of an answer.
I happen to own an old copy of Astrology for the Millions, so I perused it and was reminded that Lewi liked to use the nodes of the planets, as well as the nodes of the moon. Below is Lewi’s natal chart in the Placidus house system using the most widely accepted time of birth. I’m not sure I accept the time as accurate, but if I’m going to attempt an answer, I should probably work with the same data most others are using. I think if you click on the chart that Blogger will pop out an enlarged version of it. My apologies in advance to any graphic artists out there for all the crumbs left behind due to the many times the charts had to be re-saved.
Just for starters, probably the first thing that brought Lewi’s attention to the probability of his own demise was a solar eclipse in March 1951 (below). It fell into his 8th house of "destruction" as he called it, in square to his natal sun, ruler of his ascendant.
The lunar eclipse that followed two weeks later at 3 Libra fell into his 2nd house. It squared his natal Neptune (which would have been the ruler of his 8th house in the equal house system), and his natal Mercury, the dispositor of his Gemini sun.
Lewi would also have checked his lunar returns and found that his July return (below) coincided with a new moon, and that the return moon fell into his 8th house, ruled the 8th house, and was the final dispositor of the return chart.
Additionally, Jupiter, the chart ruler, and Neptune, ruler of the 4th house of endings, formed a T-square to the return sun in the 8th house.
In his current solar return (below), which took place June 8, 1951, 29 Aries 59 rose on the ascendant. Be sure to watch for critical degrees, Aries points, and anaretic degrees on the angles in your own charts. The moon’s nodes squared Mars, the chart ruler.
Let’s take a look at those planetary nodes that Lewi favored.
The center wheel is, of course, the natal chart. The outer wheel holds the transits for the time of death. In red are the natal planetary nodes, although I couldn’t fit the text in, so it’s as close as possible while trying to make it still readable. Because the planets stay in the same constant orbit, their nodes barely move and will be only minutes away from the positions they held at birth fifty years before. The positions in the table below are for the north nodes of the planets, and as usual in all but harmonic charts, the south nodes are directly opposite.
If you’d like to find the positions for your own birth, there’s a fantastic generator here:
So that you don’t have to keep scrolling up, here’s the chart again. Interestingly, Lewi was born in a period following three eclipses, and died in a period sandwiched between two others, but explaining the Saros Cycle and prenatal eclipses is beyond the scope of this post.
So far, we know Lewi would have seen the solar eclipse in his 8th house afflicting his natal sun, ruler of his ascendant. Then he probably would have begun looking at the new moons each following month.
In April 1951, the new moon at 15 Aries 50 conjoined one of his prenatal solar eclipses at 17 Aries 48. Transiting Neptune at 16 Libra opposed it, but also trined his natal sun by one minute of orb. In addition, Neptune squared Jupiter.
In May, the new moon at 14 Taurus 44 conjoined the other prenatal solar eclipse at 16 Taurus 25.
In June, the new moon at 13 Gemini 15 conjoined his natal sun as well as the north node of his natal Uranus (13 Gemini 34), ruler of his 8th house. It also conjoined the north node of his natal Venus (15 Gemini 48), ruler of his 4th house (the first House of Endings), and squared the natal part of fortune at 12 Virgo.
On July 4, 1951, eleven days before his death, the new moon at 11 Cancer 32 conjoined the transiting Uranus, which again, is ruler of the 8th (the second House of Endings), which Lewi referred to as the "house of destruction."
In August, the new moon was at 09 Leo 49, exactly conjunct his natal ascendant and the north node of his natal Neptune. An eclipse later that month would occur at 23 Aquarius 25, which made no aspects to his natal chart nor any of the planetary nodes he would have been watching. So maybe he backtracked to see what was happening in July.
He was very interested in Saturn cycles, so maybe he looked there first. Transiting Saturn at 27 Virgo was deep in the "obscure" period and exactly trine his natal Saturn at 27 Capricorn, which ruled his 6th house of health, so no problem there. It was just past an inconjunct to his natal midheaven.
Transiting Uranus, ruler of the 8th (the second of the Houses of Endings), which has just been supercharged by the new moon in Cancer on July 4, and which recently entered his 12th house (the third House of Endings), conjoined the north node of his natal Jupiter. Jupiter only rules the natal 5th house, and is the ancient ruler of Pisces on the 9th, but it’s in mutual reception with Uranus, ruler of the 8th in the natal chart. That might be significant. Transiting Jupiter at 13 Aries would also have squared his natal Chiron at 13 Capricorn in his 6th house of health, but he would not have known that because Chiron wasn’t discovered until 1977. At this point, if he entertained the possibility of his demise, he would likely assume it would be sudden and surprising, like lightning, due to the nature of Uranus (ruling the 8th house). He knows, after all that his health is fine, as Saturn in his chart appears to confirm it.
He would probably have checked Pluto next, and we know he associated it with destruction, as he made note of it in Astrology for the Millions. Transiting Pluto at 18 Leo 38 was separating from a trine to the prenatal solar eclipse in Aries, and a square with the one at 16 Taurus, but it’s only ten minutes shy of a partile square with the north node of his natal Mars, the ruler of his midheaven and the co-ruler of Scorpio intercepted in the 4th house of endings. Pluto sextiles its own place, which isn’t harmful, but is basically insignificant. It trines natal Uranus, ruler of the 8th house, and opposes Jupiter, again activating the mutual reception between Uranus and Jupiter.
Personally, I’m surprised that the transiting moon’s nodes make no particularly interesting aspects to the natal chart other than the conjunction to the natal part of fortune. They do, however make trine and sextile aspects to transiting Uranus, which was supercharged by that new moon on July 4th, eleven days before his death.
Lewi was undoubtedly aware of those long-term transits of the outer planets, as we all are in our own charts. So next he would have searched for aspects made by the faster, inner, personal planets. Transiting Jupiter at 13 Aries 33 was only one minute from an exact sextile to the north node of his natal Uranus, another activation of their mutual reception.
Transiting Mars, which Lewi thought of as having a destructive nature, makes no aspects to his natal planets. Mars is also unaspected in his nativity. At just short of 8 degrees, transiting Mars conjoins the natal north node of Jupiter at 9 Cancer 27.
Venus, ruler of Taurus intercepted in the 10th house, and the 4th house where Libra is on the cusp, makes no harmful aspects to the natal chart, so I’m going to skip it, as Lewi most likely would have. Ditto for transiting Mercury. That leaves the transiting sun and moon.
The transiting sun at 22 Cancer conjoined the natal eastpoint, which is a secondary ascendant, technically where the ascendant would be if he had been born at the equator instead of Albany, New York. It also conjoined the natal north node of Saturn. And finally, the moon trined the ascendant.
At noon on the day of death, the transiting vertex, which is a date with destiny, and which moves at a rate similar to the part of fortune, moved into a sextile (opportunity) to the natal moon which occupied and ruled the 12th house of endings, and had been so revealing in the lunar return.
Grant Lewi wasn't the only astrologer to predict his own death. Click here to see who else did.